Friday, 27 October 2006

Crank (2006)

Speed on legs!

The premise of Crank is very much like Speed: instead of lots of people dying if your vehicle slows down, Jason Statham dies if he slows down. Statham plays professional hitman Chev Chelios, who has been injected with some poison by a gangster as payback for a botching an operation. He will die if his heart rate slows down, and he needs to find as many ways of stimulating his adrenaline level before obtaining a proper cure or failing which, killing the gangster and his entire crew. This is of course an excuse for making a film where Statham gets to take lots of illegal drugs, steal vehicles, assault random strangers, drive a car through a shopping mall, and top it all of with a bout of public sex in a Chinatown street. It’s like an English yob’s dream movie: you don’t need much of a flimsy or coherent excuse to indulge in laddish behaviour, just lots of style and attitude.

Indeed, the plot of the movie never gets deeper than what I described in the premise, the characters never get any more 3-dimension or interesting than what you could read about them in my introduction, but the directors see that as a very good thing in itself. I bet that could explain the huge amount of plot holes and continuity errors in the movie, such as Statham running unimpeded without a shadow of a limp despite receiving a bullet in his shin.

Crank strings together over-the-top violence and scenes designed to cause offence (misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia being the least objectionable here) with a dazzling array of video game style overlays, MTV cuts, and more split screens than 24. The overweening mass of visceral violence, drug taking and high speed chases should hold together with the duct tape of music video-influenced editing, but sadly the style is highly inconsistent, You’ll get the feeling that the majority of the special effects were just added because they would make the movie look cool and exciting, but were added in a haphazard manner. I am fine with split screens! But what’s with the continuously interchanging panels that switch over for no apparent rhyme or reason? The barrage of non-stop violence, loud music and bad editing style may be reason enough to make a highly-entertaining "experimental short film", but after 20 minutes, I got very bored and tired, and by movie’s end, I felt nauseous.

Crank is not a movie you want to pay good money to watch in the cinema, but I can imagine an occasion where this Jason Statham vanity project might be entirely appropriate: you can rent the DVD for one of those Friday nights where you invite all your male pals over to watch rugby and eat lots of snacks from a huge bowl, or when you have a stag party and need something playing in the background. Then again, for those occasions, I’d recommend a sick, violent, offensive but funny and clever movie called The Devil’s Rejects. I suppose getting 3 out of 5 of those qualities isn’t too bad for Crank after all.

First published at incinemas on 2 November 2006

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